The importance of Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal's Attack
7 min read

The importance of Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal's Attack

The importance of Martin Ødegaard to Arsenal's Attack

It is Friday, we've made it through another week and instead of burning down my mentions (again) with a Ben White transfer take (it was pretty tepid but only extremes matter now), I am going to look at something that I think it more interesting, how important Martin Ødegaard is to Arsenal having a functional attack.

Martin Ødegaard makes the Arsenal attack go brrrrr

Looking at Martin Odegaard's radar he doesn't come off all that important but I think that is a reflection of what he is good at, his role at Arsenal doing a bit of hybrid attacking midfield and actual midfield.

Looking at the stats dashboard instead shows I think a fuller picture:

Odegaard has been a very good passer, a good creative hub for Arsenal while being secure on the ball and providing solid defensive numbers.

His creative numbers are especially impressive ranking 5th in shot-creating actions per 90, with the third most from open play passes. Overall his 114 shot-creating actions have turned into 12 goals for Arsenal an impressive tally.

This is really the basis of what I want to look at today. How he seems to be the key to how Arsenal's attack functions (correlation does not always mean causation so maybe things flow the other way but I still think this time it is going in the direction I am proposing).

Below are his radars this season based on the outcome of Arsenal's match.

These aren't different than my general feeling after watching Arsenal. When Arsenal win he plays the role of creator. When Arsenal lose he takes on less of a creator role, instead taking more shots, and well when Arsenal draw is a pretty small sample of pretty bland performances from him.

Here are what I think are his key stats for his role and how they play out during each game state.  

When Arsenal Win:

Goal Probability   Added Progressive Passes Deep Completions Shot Creating Actions Suc Pressures
0.33 5.1 4.5 4.65 4.75

When Arsenal Draw:

Goal Probability   Added Progressive Passes Deep Completions Shot Creating Actions Suc Pressures
0.00 1.5 2 0 2

When Arsenal Lose:

Goal Probability   Added Progressive Passes Deep Completions Shot Creating Actions Suc Pressures
0.18 2.3 2.7 2.4 3.8

I believe that the best of Odegaard comes from him playing that creative role and only having to be at most a secondary shot threat for only the best chances leaving that to the other forwards. It will be exciting to see what he could do with a more threatening center forward in front of him.

Week 35 Simulated Odds

There are some interesting fixtures this weekend, with more "close" matchups than we had last week.

I am interested in how Newcastle will fare against Liverpool. The odds are stacked against them but they have also been a solid to good team since January, over their last 10 matches played they rank as the 6th best team in the Premier League, with positive xG difference and goal difference. It is quite a stark contrast from their abysmal form for the first half of the season.

The 7am (3pm) kickoffs don't have a ton on the line but there is a big match in the relegation race with Watford hosting Burnley. If Burnley can win this, they will open up a 5-point gap on Everton, and an almost 4-point expected point gap, yes they will have played two extra matches but that could put Everton into BIG trouble.

Saturday ends with Leeds hosting Manchester City. I don't know what to expect from this match, under Bielsa Leeds won once, drew once, and were absolutely curb-stomped, but each match was pretty crazy. Now it is Jesse Marsch in charge and he has Leeds mostly safe from relegation but I am not sure he will have the same guts to go straight at City in this match.

Sunday is big for the top four race, with both Arsenal and Tottenham favorites in matches that could still be tricky. Both Leicester and West Ham have had European Semi-Finals on Thursday to contend with so neither might be at full strength.

West Ham vs Arsenal

This is the second hardest fixture on Arsenal's remaining schedule and I am nervous by how confident I am before this to where I am almost going full reverse jinx thinking this could be a trap.

First the reasons for my confidence. Arsenal seemed to have bounced back from the losing run and adapted to the injuries that they have. Restructuring the midfield around Granit Xhaka has really helped, while also having both midfielders able to cover for fullbacks who are more comfortable going forward is a good thing. It still isn't perfect but it is better.

There is also the fact that West Ham will be coming off the biggest match of their season before this match. The Europa League final is within touching distance for them and I really think that will be a major focus for them. Lastly, they could be/will be very thin at center back. Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, and, Kurt Zouma are all at best questionable to play and Craig Dawson is suspended. It could be a midfielder called into action against Arsenal.

So why am I now questioning my confidence? Because I am a worrier and optimism feels foreign, especially after being burned by teams that are supposed to be struggling having an unexpectedly good performance against Arsenal. With the team riding high on big wins against Chelsea and United, this has let down potential.

Full match odds

For paying subscribers I did a data dive into Gabriel Jesus and his ability to finish chances. TLDR; probably a below-average finisher (maybe there is something City specific that isn't caught in Opta data) but I think still a very good choice for Arsenal. I enjoyed writing this.

So just how bad of a finisher is Gabriel Jesus?
A data deep dive into Gabrial Jesus’ shooting

The ArsenalVision Arseblog Crossover event. This makes me want to cancel my already scheduled plans and hop on a plane. I am not sure if there will still be tickets available but here is the link you want to go.

Arsecast Live
Buy tickets to upcoming shows

Lastly, I looked how Arsenal look compared to the Key Performance Indicators I set up for Arsenal at the start of the year. It is looking good so far.

Arsenal KPIs - April Edition
To revisit what these Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are, these are my goals for the team. I think that they are pretty good and generally match the consensus expectations for Arsenal at the start of the season. For me, the goal was to get back into European football, with a

Thank you for reading.

YeeHaw 🤠